Sunday, 10 May 2015

Rotary and Maori Women's Welfare League

It's not often I talk about these two passions on this blog. Partly because this blog is for my reflections on teaching and my evolution as I grow to become better and better as a teacher and learner.

Both Rotary and Māori Women's Welfare League allows me to do this as well.

Since November 2013 I've been involved with Rotaract - a fantastic group of like minded people who are interested in giving back to the community and who love fundraising - plus the fact that I had over 10 instant friends explains the fellowship side of it. Very quickly into my time in Rotaract I became the club Secretary and I've kept the role ever since. Mid 2014 we had our changeover and I was given the role of incoming President as well as current Secretary. This year though - I decided to give up my incoming presidency to a friend who is just so much more organised, has amazing ideas and a lot more time to give at the moment. She is going to make an amazing President for our club in Rotorua this coming year. So I stay secretary and possibly move into Presidency mid year 2016...

Rotaract is part of the Rotary family. It's a huge organisation built on strong foundations. When I grew up Rotary, Lions and other clubs were what I called 'Old White Men' clubs. And... for the most part it's stayed that way. Over the last 20 or so years, women have joined in and helped to continue making Rotary one of the largest charitable groups in the world.

As a member of Rotaract, you tend to be between the ages of 18 and 35. After that time you can become a Friend of Rotaract or join Rotary. If you're younger, you can join your school's local Interact club.

As a teacher at WHHS and a Rotaract member, I help to facilitate our Interact club. Not that our students need much help but it was definitely good last year to have Interact being run consitutionally and having Changeover from mid year to the following mid year. July to June. It works well in the Northern Hemisphere but it works well at Heights too because it's broken up the tradition of the Y13 students, often the prefects, running it and then leaving it with no succession plan for the coming year. By running Interact constitutionally, changeover requires a younger student, possibly a Y12 to step into the role of President for the coming year so that when they're Y13 they have half of that year to do as much as possible and then hand it on to the next Y12 in July. This also enables the club to keep running as the Y13s tended to drop everything to focus on their studies at the end of the year - and while that is a good focussing stratevy - it didn't help the structure or life of the club. At the moment I'm helping them bring in younger members to build more capacity.

In all three Rotary divisions there are areas where you are able to work with others in areas of passion. For example, the youth director in each Rotary club works with Rotaract and Interact. The Rotaract International Director works with our international focus areas to build a stronger fellowship and connections. The Interact Club committee ensures that everything they do is being recorded and collated for years to come, as well as build membership.

I was once told by a Rotary member that building membership was the most important thing and it was not always done properly. In Rotaract at the moment we went through a stage where a lot of people left, due to previous club drama and we have basically had to start again. We are slowly creating more of a presencd on our club's Facebook page and putting more effort into being seen by the Community and ensuring others know that we're out there.

Our most recent events include Happy Hour for a Cause where we fundraise for a particular charity- often local; SPCA fundraisers like Free High Fives and water stops in the Redwoods; working with the local Rotary clubs in big events like the Walkathon, Marathon and ShelterBox.

It seriously is such an awesome organisation and so many people just don't know about it or unfortunately have the same perception as I did while growing up. Rotary have brilliant funding opportunities as well as school exchanges overseas.

We finished up our #Rotary9930 conference today and it was a seriously amazing opportunity. I met a tonne of awesome people, learnt about the professional development and more opportunities that are available as part of the Rotary organisation. I wish more members from my club could have come. We have big plans to build stronger systems for the youth divisions here in Rotorua and we're looking forward to developing a stronger and consistent focus. Learning about the International Fellowship programme was fantastic! I'm definitely going to find out more about that. Rotary is a trusted organisation... it still boggles my mind to think that there is a little purple book with all of our details, partners, workplaces, past roles in Rotary... and the immense power and possible connections that can be made and used to develop a stronger and positive community... it's just fantastic. The international fellowship allows you to find different Rotary members to stay with, fly with, go yachting with... if you have a passion then there is a fellowship for you to join. So so cool.

After the conference today I headed to my next hui - with the Rotorua Māori Women's Welfare League. Such an amazing group of women who share similar goals to improve our community and uphold our values. They awhi and tautoko so many different people and programmes. In our roopu we have a majority of elder kuia and it's been my passion for a wee while now to begin a rangatahi (youth) division in our branch to build up the younger women in our community.

Today at our meeting two new members joined, a life member from another branch and a new (young) member. I was so stoked that it was the first thing I said... Laughed it off because I love our kaumatua and they are just absolutely brilliant. It is nice though to see another young(er) face too :)

Within this group of wahine I feel supported and part of a bigger and hugely historical organisation. With our tupuna, the likes of Te Whina Cooper and others who fought long and hard to build a healthier and stronger community for Māori women and Māori whanau.

The League works closely with a range of different groups in our community such as Plunket, kohanga reo, young and older children, holds oratory competitions and develops on-going focus areas to improve our community. We fundraise a lot too which I love and build beautiful connections with our people in the community.

The recent big event at Puketawhero park 'Give it A Go' day was a beautiful insight to the kaupapa of the League and it's something that is inherently passionate in me as well as pushes me to be consistently better every day. To be the best I can be, model positivity and be supported by kuia who are just so loving and very funny.

Hearing te reo Māori is one of the other reasons I go each month. Because it's not often something I hear every day. Perhaps I need to use more reo Māori so that others remember I understand and am somehow worthy of being spoken to? It's a different way of being here in Te Arawa - because not only is their dialect just a bit different, they seem to have a way about them where the reo is held close and not shared. Which I find weird because we're in a city of tourism, Māori tourism at that and the Te Arawa people are well reknown for their guiding and touring natures.

At least in the League I can count on hearing beautiful waiata, karakia, jokes in te reo Māori and kaupapa Māori. These toa wahine and mana wahine teach me daily how to be a better person, a better Māori woman and to develop better relationships with the people around me.

The only issue I have with both the MWWL and Rotary are their immunisation programmes. While I completely applaud them for their efforts, in eradicating Polio and improving child wellbeing (tamariki ora) I just can't seem to get past my feelings and anxiety around the issue.

On top of that is the need for our Rotary clubs to be more aware of the realities everyday New Zealanders face day to day as well as the need for them to be more aware of te ao Māori. To use te reo Māori more appropriately and be the forerunners of correct pronunciation.

That would be awesome.

And... for tonight - that is all. :)